British Prime Minister Theresa May’s political secretary has outed a man in an official Number 10 Downing Street statement.
Shahmir Sanni, is a Brexit whistleblower who claims his family in Pakistan is now in danger because of the ‘outing’.
Stephen Parkinson worked as the ground campaign manager for the Vote Leave group during the UK’s Brexit referendum.
The Brexit referendum asked British people to vote on whether or not the UK should remain in the European Union. The majority of people voted to leave the EU.
But fellow pro-Brexit campaigner, Sanni, was allegedly about to release a series of explosive claims about Vote Leave. Parkinson then outed Sanni by revealing the two had ‘dated’ for 18 months. He suggested ‘blurred lines’ about the relationship was the reason Sanni was blowing the whistle.
According to reports, Sanni had evidence that the Vote Leave group used illegal campaigning methods during the Brexit campaign. Sanni’s evidence shows Vote Leave allegedly coordinated with another pro-Brexit group, BeLeave, to dodge campaign spending limits.
The Times reported that: ‘BeLeave spent £625,000 on a Canadian social media company using a donation he received from Vote Leave. Electoral law prohibited BeLeave from co-operating with Vote Leave over how the money was spent.’
Pakistan family in danger
Through his lawyers, Sanni released a statement condemning Parkinson’s decision to out him.
Sanni’s lawyer Tasmin Allen of the firm Bindmans LLP released a statement alongside his. She said they believed it was ‘the first time a Downing Street official statement has been used to out someone’.
‘My client is now having to come out to his mother and family tonight, and members of his family in Pakistan are being forced to take urgent protective measures to ensure their safety,’ Allen said in a statement to media.
Sanni accused Parkinson of outing him deliberately.
I’ve lost complete respect for Stephen Parkinson. His antics are inexcusable and my sympathies are with Shahmir Sanni
— Oliver Norgrove (@OliverNorgrove) March 24, 2018
‘It’s sad that Stephen feels he can’t tell the truth about cheating in the Referendum. I think he understands why I had to do the right thing and let people know what really happened,’ Sanni said.
‘But I never imagined that he, with the help of Number 10, would choose to tell the world I am gay, in a last desperate attempt to scare me.
‘This is something I’ve never told most of my friends or family, here or in Pakistan, some of whom are having to take measures to ensure their safety.
‘He knew the danger it would cause, and that’s why he did it.
‘My coming out should have happened at a moment of my choosing – not his or the Government’s. Some things are more important than politics and I hope that one day he agrees.’
What Parkinson said
Parkinson, who has been a close advisor to PM May since she took office, wrote that Sanni was a volunteer for ‘Vote Leave and other leave campaigns, and we began a personal relationship’.
‘We subsequently dated for 18 months, splitting up – I thought amicably – in September 2017,’ Parkinson wrote.
‘That is the capacity in which I gave Shahmir advice and encouragement, and I can understand if the lines became blurred for him, but I am clear that I did not direct the activities of any separate campaign groups.
‘I had no responsibility for digital campaigning or donations during the referendum, and am confident that Vote Leave acted entirely within the law and strict spending rules at all times.’